Choosing WI-FI Enabled Printers and Photocopiers

Over many years the choice, when buying a new printer was simple; should it be a laser or an ink jet, a single function model, an All-in-One, a business grade model or a small, inexpensive desktop? These have been the sum total of all the choices on offer to us, to enable us to find the right printer to suit the job in hand.

That is, until now!  Things have changed dramatically over the last couple of years.  Printers now have an additional, yet very important feature- wireless connectivity. In this blog we will aim to guide and de-mystify some of the buying decisions that you will need to make.

Many people ask us about what the important factors to look for in a wireless printer are, along with the meaning of particular terminology, (or gobbledegook), which is often very baffling! 

There are lots of wireless-technology nuances that are important to understand and absorb, before hopefully making a decision to buy.  

Numerous printers available on the market today, support some form of wireless printing or connectivity or at least have an option for it. Yet wireless comes in a variety of forms and some of today's best printers support multiple kinds.

The wireless function on these machines allows you to connect the printer to a LAN via Wi-Fi, enabling all printers on that network to print to it.  In other instances, the wireless connection may enable Wi-Fi connectivity directly between a computer and a given printer, outside the confines of a Wi-Fi network or a LAN.  Furthermore, in other cases, some printers may allow for printing directly from mobile devices that are not traditional computers, such as an iPhone or tablet. It is therefore essential to become familiar with the terms and what they mean before you rush out to buy that wireless printer.

Wi-Fi: Wireless Networking

The most common type of wireless connectivity in the modern printers of today is Wi-Fi.  This serves exactly the function that you would expect, taking the place of a USB or Ethernet cable to connect your printer to your local wireless network. The benefits of a wireless link over a conventional wired Ethernet, is that it is more versatile.  It enables you to place the printer anywhere in the building as long as it's within the signal range. With this facility, you can now put the printer in places that previously were far too impractical with physical wires.

The Wi-Fi facility has become very common recently in home and small business printers, with only the very cheapest budget models not supporting it. However if you are intending to buy a business class printer for your company, be aware that the Wi-Fi option doesn't always come as standard with all these printers. Often, this is an optional extra, which is why a lot of businesses have an existing wired-Ethernet infrastructure in place. If you decide you want this option, make sure to ask how much extra that it's going to be, in some cases it will run in excess of ¬£100.  Also ensure that you check and match the type of Wi-Fi that is included with the printer, with the capabilities of your network's access point. Wi-Fi connections aren't usually a print-speed issue or bottleneck for most users. However, it could become a problem is if the printer is being used constantly by many users for large jobs.  In this case, a wired Ethernet is most likely a better solution.

Wi-Fi Direct: No-network Wireless Printing

Wi-Fi direct uses the same basic technology as Wi-Fi but it's a totally different concept altogether. Wi-Fi direct is far less common in today's printers than the usual Wi-Fi but be aware that if a printer supports Wi-Fi Direct, it also supports conventional Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Direct enables you to print from a Wi-Fi enabled, desktop, laptop or mobile device without an intervening router or access point. In simpler terms, the source device and the printer form a basic connection over Wi-Fi, rather than routing the data over your local network. This is useful for allowing a visitor that is in your office to print from their device to one of your printers without having to give full access to your network. Also, environments where it may not make sense to set up a full Wi-Fi network could benefit from using Wi-Fi Direct. You could, for example, print straight from your Wi-Fi enabled laptop to another Wi-Fi enabled laptop to a Wi-Fi direct equipped printer without either device being attached to a Wi-Fi network!

AirPrint Over Wi-Fi: Printing from iOS Devices

If you are a user of Apple iOS devices, or iPhones and iPod Touches, then you may benefit from AirPrint, which is a protocol that enables to print to a Wi-Fi equipped printer on a local network.  Unlike many other wireless printing technologies that allow for printing from mobile devices, AirPrint is largely very simple and seamless in its operation. No special apps to the mobile device need to be downloaded, which is a bonus.  Having AirPrint support within the printer enables any AirPrint enabled app or program to "find" the printer on the local network and print directly to it. AirPrint also works with Mac computers running OS X.  Both the printer and the iOS/OS X device must be on the same Wi-Fi network to allow AirPrint to work wireless, the connection isn't directly from device to printer. Apple does have a list of printer makes that will work with AirPrint.

Near Field Communication (NFC):

NFC works in a way similar to wireless internet except that it uses a short-range radio frequencies to relay info between your devices.  With a simple click, your device can immediately transfer your documents to an NFC-enabled printer. This type of data transfer has powered smartcards in transportation systems for over a decade.

Though you can still use a particular app to print from, there is no longer any need to connect directly to a Wi-Fi network which can be unreliable.  There is also no need to worry about the trouble of transferring documents into an application, which can sometimes prove to be tricky when certain file formats aren't supported. Another advantage is that by using NFC, you can be signed into Google Cloud to easily transfer Word documents, spreadsheets, or even presentation slides to the printer. This emerging new technology is the very latest development in the printing world and will be seen increasingly in any new models from leading manufacturers.

Hopefully this short explanation about Wi-Fi and its different variations will help you in your search for the printer that suits you.  If you are still in any doubt, contact a reputable printer dealer.

  • Paragon's response‚Ķ

There are a good many useful tips here to consider when you are considering a new printer.  Some of these terms can be really baffling for consumers. If you need advice about any of these points then why not let us help?

We are the printer experts that you need!  We can advise you on all the newest technologies that are currently available.  We deal in only the best manufacturers, such as Kyocera, Cannon and Toshiba.  Our advisers have over 30 years of experience in their field, enabling you to be safe in the knowledge that you have chosen the best printer to suit your personal needs.  We can tailor your purchase to your exact requirements.  We not only sell the best, we can also provide a competitive leasing and rental service that is second to none.  Why not contact us to find out more?

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